Interview with an expat

What is your name?
Cole Vincent

Where do you come from and where do you live in the Netherlands?
I am from Arizona in the US and now I live in Maarssen, right next to Utrecht.

What’s your job/business?
I originally came here to go to a barbers’ academy in Utrecht, but the coronavirus put that on hold for now. For now I teach English online.

What was your first time in the Netherlands?
My first trip to the Netherlands in March 2018 was also my first trip to Europe. I came with a friend to Utrecht and instantly knew I wanted to live here.

What is the nicest thing about the Netherlands?
The people are really nice and are very accepting on a social level. I also like how close other cities are and how easy it is to get to them with the awesome train system. But right now I’m not traveling much because of Covid.

What’s the worst thing about the Netherlands?
The weather. Wow, there’s a lot of rain! I come from basically a desert where it’s dry and warm all the time, so the rain and cool weather is really different than what I’m used to.

Do you have Dutch friends?
Yes, I’ve met some friends through the local barber shop here, where I had planned to do an apprenticeship. Luckily I came here before the pandemic, when we were able to go out more.

What do you like about Dutch people? What don’t you like?
The people are really friendly and they are helpful, like if you need help in a store or at the bank. The Dutch people can also be direct, which can shock you at first, but now I’m used to it.

Do you have a favourite restaurant in your city?
Before corona I went to Meneer Smakers a lot. They make the best burgers (outside of the US of course!) with so many different varieties. Their loaded fries are really good too.

Where do you prefer to relax in your city?
Maarssen is really quiet to begin with, so just walking around the town is very relaxing. In Utrecht just walking along the main canal is really nice, plus the city has a lot of park areas around other canals.

What’s your favourite Dutch store?
It’s not a store but the Hoog Catharijne mall is great. It has so many shops and restaurants, and being in the same structure as the main train station makes it easy to get to from Maarssen.

What do you like to do in the weekend?
Before the pandemic I would go out with friends in Utrecht, but now I usually spend the weekends catching up on errands and teaching more, since there are more bookings then.

Who is your favourite Dutch person?
I’m a huge Game of Thrones fan, so Michiel Huisman is one of my favourite actors, so probably my favourite Dutch person. I also like Mark Rutte a lot, especially when I saw pictures of him riding his bike to work!

What would you recommend a visitor to do and see in your city in the Netherlands?
For Maarssen I would recommend just walking around the town. It’s typical Dutch with canals, old architecture and an old church. Or going to Utrecht, because there is more to do and see there like the Spoorwegmuseum, which is a museum all about the rail system in the Netherlands.

What is your favourite Dutch food? And what Dutch food do you dislike?
Dutch fries are great, especially the fresh-cut fries like you get from street vendors or at Meneer Smakers. But I don’t like mayonnaise on them. I also don’t like the raw herring.

Do you celebrate Dutch holidays? What is your favourite?
I try to celebrate the Dutch holidays, but it’s hard with the pandemic and not being able to get around. I did get to celebrate Sinterklaas with friends last year, which was good since it’s at a different time than Christmas, when Americans celebrate.

Where do you like to go out?
Right now just walking around the town. I used to like to go out in Utrecht, but now I don’t do that so much.

What famous Dutch place should you really go and see?
Utrecht is a great city and because Amsterdam and Rotterdam are so big, people usually overlook it. There is a lot of history here, museums and things to do, and there are a lot of international restaurants too. Before the pandemic some friends and I took a day trip to drive across the Afsluitdijk, which is Dutch engineering at its best.

Best-kept secret in your city?
I would say the Spoorwegmuseum. It probably gets overlooked because of other things to see in Utrecht.

Interview by Marla Thomson